Chargé Sleeper to the Secretary of State.

No. 167.]

Sir: In continuation of legation dispatch No. 165 of the 30th ultimo, relative to the insurrection, I have the honor to advise the department that the situation at this writing appears more gloomy, and the possibility of an early settlement more remote.

The offer of amnesty made by the Government on the 27th ultimo has not been taken advantage of to the extent hoped for, and the rebels appear to be daily receiving new adhesions, while the appeals of the Government have met with no enthusiastic response on the part of the people. The commercial element generally takes a pessimistic view of the situation, which is undeniably bad, all new operations having been suspended, only absolutely necessary business being transacted, and all loans to tobacco and sugar planters being refused by the banks.

Disquieting rumors were received here yesterday from Santiago and Camaguey provinces, in both of which uprisings are said to have occurred, but I have been as yet unable to verify these reports officially.

If this information is true, it means that the revolt is general throughout the island, and that an exceedingly serious condition of affairs confronts the Government.

In Pinar del Rio, Guerra has carefully avoided a battle, and it appears to be his intention to cross the hills to the north, describe a flanking movement eastward on the other side of the range, and when sufficiently powerful to make a dash for Habana Province.

From verbal information from recent arrivals from Santa Clara Province the situation there has grown worse, the whole central portion between the cities of Santa Clara and Cienfuegos and the latter toward Sagua la Grande, being overrun with insurrectionists. In this province Gen. Juan Bravo, a man of some prominence, has recently risen in revolt.

In the province of Habana, the Government surprised and defeated the insurrectionists under Asbert, inflicting upon him a loss of 20 killed and wounded, the casualties of the Government being very small.

I inclose herewith Asbert’s interview in “La Discusion.”

In a recent conversation with a Cuban gentleman, who claims to be well informed on the questions of the day, I was told that the Government had requested the veterans of Santiago to take the field in its behalf, and that they had replied—a number of them at least—that they would prefer to appoint a committee to come to Habana [Page 465]and endeavor to effect a settlement between the two parties. Somewhat later in the day I received Mr. Holaday’s telegram confirming this information, and this morning’s Daily Telegraph publishes the fact that General Cebreco called at the palace and suggested to the President the appointment of a committee of veterans to discuss peace terms with the rebels.

I confirm on the overleaf my telegram of August 30, and inclose clippings from Daily Telegraph relative to interview.

My informant also told me that the political leaders of the two parties were anxious to avoid the mediation of the aforesaid veterans and desired to come to some understanding, if possible, on the following basis:

That the municipalities should be constituted as they were previous to the elections.
This Congress should enact an electoral law, guaranteeing a minority representation and that both parties shall have equal representation in the cabinet.

I cite the above merely as an example of one of the many rumors current.

I inclose a translation of Doctor O’Farrill’s note to this legation of even date, presenting an optimistic view of the situation.

I beg to inclose herewith various clippings from Habana newspapers touching on the situation.

I have, etc.

Jacob Sleeper,
Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.

P. S.—I have just received a telegram from the consul at Santiago de Cuba, reading as follows:

Rural Guards surrounded Songo Thursday night and arrested Urbano Sanchez, who it is claimed was endeavoring to get the people Arecus neighborhood to take up arms against the government. He was brought to this city. No disturbances have occurred here in this province, but agitators are working and trouble may be expected unless the insurrection is quelled soon. Holaday.

J. S., Chargé.

[Inclosure 1.]

(Translation of an interview had with Col. Ernesto Asbert, and taken from La Discussión, dated August 29, 1906.)

We who are in arms are not in arms for the purpose of waging a capricious warfare. That would be ruinous to our character. The ill-considered attitude of the Government, which is doing all manner of violence and abuse and using the most reprehensible means to keep itself perpetually in power, has forced us to take this position.

The efforts to establish peace that are made by those lovers of our independence who, since the clash of the last electoral struggle did not reach them, may be called neutrals in the present armed contest, is gratifying and we sincerely believe that their rôle as mediators to put an end to the state of affairs that has arisen without further shedding of blood, is highly patriotic and offers perhaps a solution of the present problem that will be to the interest of the Republic. Since all that is sought by the revolution is the reestablishment of the rule of law and the free exercise of suffrage, both desired by the true public will, which we must venerate and respect, we believe that those who are in power can not give a negative response to its demands.

Above all the economic classes, concerned as they must be, since power reigns in the land and follows the life it has begun, can play a brave and important part in the solution of this intricate affair. While this is being done, however, [Page 466]the revolutionists will maintain their position, accepting with resignation the consequences it may bring.

Asbert also stated to his visitors that they evaded all encounters with the government forces, because they desired to avoid bloodshed by all means, and for that reason would always maintain themselves on the defensive.

Following this plan a change of camp, is made every eight hours in order to eliminate the possibility of a surprise that would force them to fight.

The total number of rebels under command of Asbert is over 150, all mounted and armed. They are also provided with medicines and food.

Messrs. Echarte, Herrera, and Garcia visited the entire camp, accompanied by Asbert. Asbert in his remarks stated that he had superior orders to commence on the 15th an active revolutionary campaign, destroying trains and burning property, without regard to foreigners, if the Government did not accede before that time to the demands of the revolutionists.

“We prefer,” stated Asbert, “a new American intervention that will guarantee future legal elections.”

[Inclosure 2.]

[Newspaper clipping from Daily Telegraph.]

Gen. Agustin Cebreco, who, as reported in the Telegraph, arrived from Santiago, yesterday held a conference with President Palma.

On leaving the palace he informed a Telegraph representative that he was in favor of the appointment of a committee of veterans, who shall hold a parley with the rebels to end the war and prevent further damage.

General Cebreco added that he expects Gen. Mario Menocal to reach Habana within a day or so, to be present at the assembly of veterans to be held soon, at which assembly it will be proposed to name a committee to interview the leaders of the uprising.

[Inclosure 3.]

Secretary of the Department of State and Justice to Chargé Sleeper.

No. 710.]

Mr. Chargé d’affaires: I take pleasure in informing your honor that the government forces have, in the last two days, had encounters with the rebels in Santa Clara and Habana provinces, killing many, taking many prisoners, dispersing their bands, and capturing their horses, arms, and supplies. The accounts of these fights (which I do not insert in this note, as they have been given in the press) show that the rebellion is on the decline; that it is altogether without military organization, without reputable leaders and aims, and that, it can not be doubted, it will soon be dominated.

As fast as the Government receives arms and supplies it is pushing operations against the disturbers of public order. Already, in Pinar del Rio, we have several columns under the command of Colonel Avalos, who is endeavoring to engage the bands of Guerra and Betancourt.

It may be said that the province of Matanzas is quiet.

In Habana and Santa Clara surrenders are frequent and everything indicates the rapid subsidence of the rebellion.

In Camaguey a party of men attempted to enter, but was repulsed and dispersed.

The generals of the war of independence are daily arriving in Habana and offering their services to the President of the Republic.

I confirm to your honor all that I have had the opportunity to say to you since the beginning of the present rebellion relative to the ability of the Government to conquer the insurrectionists and quickly pacify the country.

I reiterate, etc.

Juan F. O’Farrill,